Help Tele Get Back into College

Hello, my name is Teleayo Oyekunle. I am a senior in Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.

I recently stopped my education and returned home to Nigeria as my student status was terminated due to a financial hold on my account. This comes as a huge blow to me because I have 3 semesters left to complete my undergraduate degree.

As I write this, I wonder if my story is worth your time or money, or the exposure that comes with such a campaign. Only now do I recognize the courage of those who ask for help. With that, I ask for your help in overcoming this mountain in front of me.

I currently owe $61,000 to the university, all of which I need to clear so that I may return to complete my education.

I arrived in 2014 and started at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was a well thought out decision, with my father and his company covering the costs. I spent one and a half years there, with not as much financial difficulty.

I had an ambition to get into one of the top universities in my field (Electrical Engineering, now Computer Engineering), so I transferred to the University of Illinois in Spring 2016.

Halfway through my first semester here, the payments started to come late. But I had already registered for the following Summer and Spring semesters, confident that it was enough time to make sufficient payments.

Unfortunately, I went through the whole school year without another payment. In Spring 2017 however, another burst of payments came in where we paid almost half of what was owed (15,000), allowing me to attend continue my studies. However, payments completely dried up for the rest of the year. At the end of the semester, I was left $60,000 in debt to the university. Unfortunately, after asking for help from the school administration, all I was offered was an on-campus job, not enough to put a dent on my debt.

In the fall of 2017, we lost a payment of about $25,000 when we tried to use a third party ‘bureau de change’ to transfer money between Nigeria and the U.S. This left me heartbroken and out of status. I was informed I could apply for reinstatement to restore my immigration status, but the deadline approached, and I chose to leave the country instead of incurring immigration penalties.

I have stayed hungry in the classroom, with my gpa currently at 3.66/4, with a few dean's/honors list appearances. I have also been actively involved in organizations on campus such as Irobotics(a robotics club), NSBE(National Society of Black Engineers), Illini Boxing, Illini DanceSport, while being active in church in the media’s sound department,

It’s been a journey finding out not just what I am good at, but what I would like to do. I started out pursuing architecture at a Nigerian university after graduation because that was what I was told I was good at. When I left for America (MSOE, Milwaukee), I chose to study Electrical Engineering because it was more aligned with where my passions aligned. And since the day I put together a servo motor & programmed it spin, I was hooked. Upon further analysis of the job and classes pools, I realized Computer Engineering was best for me, where I can combine my passion for building hardware and writing the code for it.

An embedded/firmware engineer is the one who does these things, and that is what I aspire to become, not just when I graduate, but even now.

I would like to resume school in August 2018 with an expected graduation in December 2019. I recognize this is a lot of money, but I also recognize that I cannot do this alone. Therefore, I am asking for your help in helping me realize my dream of becoming a firmware engineer with a B.Sc. in Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Teleayo Oyekunle.

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Demi Olatunbosun 
Champaign, IL
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